Free Range Children, Red Rover and Other Novelties of the Past That I Wish They’d Bring Back: Part 1

I am thoroughly enjoying a hot cup of coffee and waiting for my front door to be kicked open by my loving and wonderful daughters. I know they’ll be here any second, clamoring over one another while announcing the adventures of their day at deafening decibel levels at the same time. Oh, and don’t forget the fighting that they just decided to start, over something as ridiculous as how many fallen leaves they ran over while riding home with their father. I actually look forward to this part of the day. I get to see and talk to my kids, and they actually want to see and talk to me. It’s a rarity, since they’ve started to mature and form the unnatural tween/teenage need to burrow in their messy rooms and watch mindless shit on their tablets for hours on end.

Hey wait…that’s sort of like me now that I think of it! Except, I just want to hide in my hoarder’s paradise of all things crafty or bury my nose in a book…I guess they’re just emulating me! Awww….such cute little barely tolerating society hobbit-like introverts! I sure hope that introversion becomes the ‘in’ thing soon, for their sake, or they aren’t gonna make it! Ha ha ha! Alas, this coffee is lovely!

If this were our old life, I’d have been anxiously preparing all day for when the afternoon chaos would begin. The moment my children would hit the door, we’d be running our asses off like people sprinting to hit the deals of a Black Friday sale, in preparation for our departure for the day’s sporting or whatever extracurricular activity or event. And of course, my children would NEVER prepare the night before. Clem is much more organized than me, but both of us are planners.

We have one of those nifty ‘Mom calendars’ hanging neatly on our fridge that clearly states the chaos and panic of our day to day grind including the who, what, when, where, why and how we’ll be spending our life, neatly planned to the hour. If anyone ever wanted to capture and detain us, there’d be no work necessary in determining our patterns. Look no further than the fridge. Or, if we go missing, same rules apply. The fridge…yes, the place that everyone frequents the most, aside from the bathroom. If anyone asks what I am doing on whatever day, I always inform them that I must consult the fridge. I could actually put the calendar in the bathroom, but that’d definitely be weird. Ha ha! I can totally imagine saying that I must consult the Oval Office to anyone who asks what I’m up to!!

A day in our past life…

Anyway, I really want my kids to be more responsible, so I started to give them more control over preparing themselves with each passing year, but to no avail, it never seems to sink in about the ‘preparedness’ part. Our past life looked like this. The girls would hit the door with the same rambunctious vigor that they do now, only that they’d move at a sluggish, sloth like haste at the closure of the door. Once they’d ditched their jackets and shoes, I’d watch as they shuffled around nonchalantly, mouths stuffed with semi-chewed food, half dressed in whatever appropriate attire was necessary while searching for the remainder of said outfit. The search for the missing items were often unhurried and found unusually strewn about, somewhere within the confines of this house.

The unceremonious throwing of food items, homework and activities for the ride, into yet another backpack (because every other one hadn’t been emptied after the last five activity days) was carefully pondered because that was what was most important. And then, there’s me, following behind each child, telling them to hustle like a coach on the sidelines. I swear, the more fervent the coaching, the slower they’d go. And!! It seemed that the more I got on them about the time, the less their brains would function.

Sometimes, I’d find one child ready at the door! Success!! Unfortunately, the lovely child whom I’d finally discover at the door, would be pant-less, sock-less, name a missing item or in the case of a toddler…naked aside from a hat, or completely outfitted for the wrong activity that day. Help me. We would’ve already missed our departure time by five minutes, and my kids could care less or they just didn’t even want to go. The fighting, hustling, bargaining and even bribing on the daily, was enough to make a judge’s head spin. Oy vey, Dear Abby or someone, help me! Why? Why are we even doing this? Don’t we love our kids and maybe even a little of ourselves?

These have been some of the most disorganized and anxiety provoking experiences within parenting that I have survived, and last fall was the worst. If we had to pick the girls up from school and leave from there, Clem and I usually had everything ready in advance. It made for a smoother transition, but let’s be honest, it was still a time consuming and nerve wracking endeavor. Not to mention, Clem and I were usually involved directly, like coaching, and had our own things to pack up and bring…more stuff to remember and haul with us.

Sound familiar? Of course not!! No one is going to admit to sharing the same experience, ha!!! It would mean admitting that we aren’t the put together parents we portray in society!! I have to admit, I’m probably a little too honest and not afraid to share in my transgressions, but someone out there must have the same stories? Maybe? Am I the only one who doesn’t have it together? I’m not that great at parenting I guess, or maybe I just refuse to conform to the opinion of what perfect parenting is these days. I certainly don’t agree with it, nor strive for it. It’s the proverbial unicorn of parenting these days. I’m more of a real, not perfect kind of parent nowadays.

Taking the road less traveled

It seems that the world considers this, normal parenting. And, I feel it’s almost expected of families and has become the cultural norm.  We were that family not so long ago. But damn the man I say! We’re not doing that this year. I secretly don’t ever want to go back, but I think that’s unlikely. I imagine there will be a swift return to this madness in a year, but for the time being, I have been enjoying just living.

I get the impression, that people think we’ve gone mad because we’ve pulled out of all activities, just so we can get our feet back under us. It’s like we just took a dump in the middle of a crowded room. A total faux pas. People have this completely puzzled look on their face, that asks the questions, ‘Can you really do that? Isn’t that a bad thing? Your kids should be doing all the things and the every things! You’re not raising them right!’

Um, yes, you can do that, they’re your kids after all and I think (my opinion) many should pull away for a little bit, and take some time for balance and family. Rest is important too and I feel that people have lost sight of that. Balance, it seems, is a lost art form or it doesn’t truly exist. This absurd craziness has become the status symbol of greatness, determined by your busyness and floundering around in a state of total exhaustion. Here’s your badge of stellar parenting!!! Great job! All this, while barely keeping your head above the water to save face and look like the ultimate parent. You can keep my Parent of the Year Award, thank you.

This isn’t the way I want to enjoy my life and family. Been there and done that. I barely recognized myself after this summer when it all came to a screeching halt. And really, the running around did us absolutely no good while we were juggling this thing we call ‘life’. You’d think we would’ve learned this after Caelan got sick and implemented our hiatus immediately, but no, we fell for the’ just keep swimming’ crap. It’s not that I don’t agree with organized anything, there are some positives, but I just find it gets out of hand. If you have more than one child, it becomes a balancing act, especially if their interests vary and volunteering commitments exceed the activity. Point is, where’s the balance?

We did start this school year with about a month of activity twice a week, but that has since expired and opened a new world of freedom for us. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been filling the time with other things, but at the very least, if we don’t feel like going, we just plan for another time. I’ve been enjoying the impromptu shopping trips to pick out needed items for the girls and the other night, we actually went out to a restaurant for dinner! Obviously, as you can tell from my excitement, we don’t do that often. The eating out had previously been mostly on the fly for our kids, as we whip past Mickey D’s, for whatever activity.

I had times where I was actually making things like potato skins with all the toppings, and the kids would eat between activities on the drive. I ended up tossing that idea when I found most of it spilled under the seats of my vehicle how many months later…ick. Healthier but certainly not functional. I’m sure the mice and miscellaneous bugs enjoyed the feast though.

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